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The Professionals’ Groups at the Center for Professional Recovery are structured to help with the demands and requirements of our professional patients. Group topics range from 12-Step facilitation to psychological issues such as grief, attachment and healthy coping to return to work and other professional related issues. Our licensed group facilitators are highly-experienced in working with professionals and promote a milieu of honesty, openness, and inclusiveness.

Attending groups with other highly-functioning professional peers help to promote a de-stigmatizing environment, where you can feel at home while discussing and working through complicated and often emotionally painful topics. Being in a group along with other professionals also helps to hold you accountable, as others have walked in your shoes and can help make sure you are honest with yourself and others in the group.

Download the Group Syllabus.

Gregory Skipper MD

Gregory Skipper, MD – Medical Director

Dr. Skipper conducts at least two ninety-minute groups per week for professionals. The groups are highlyinteractive
and address professional and return to work issues. Writing exercises, role-playing, and
psychodrama are frequently used by Dr. Skipper.

Dr. Skipper’s Group Topics Include:

  1. Shame and the cognitive dissonance are inherent in being a professional and being addicted to alcohol and/or drugs.
  2. When returning home what does one say to whom regarding where one has been when in treatment? What if they ask?
  3. Meeting with the Regulatory Board, Professional Health Program, employers, hospital wellbeing committee, medical
    executive committee or others. What does one tell them? Role-playing frequently utilized as an exercise.
  4. What does one do about questionnaires? Such as License renewal, Hospital privileges, Insurance companies, Malpractice
    insurance, Driver’s license renewal, Life insurance applications, etc. Is it ever appropriate to lie on these forms? Would you
    lie and why? All patients develop a statement and read it to peers and accept feedback regarding their explanation of a Yes
    answer. Patients are encouraged to keep a copy of their account for future use and/or to always share an intended response
    to an appropriate person or group to help avoid “accidental denial.”
  5. DEA certification – Is it helpful to have a restricted DEA Certificate? For how long? Should you ever surrender your DEA?
    How to answer the DEA renewal questions etc.
  6. Prescribing controlled substances – risks and procedures to follow. Can you practice medicine without prescribing
    controlled substances? If so, how?
  7. Disability insurance – when to use it, how to use it, who to get to help you, etc.
  8. Medical Board and other regulatory board procedures, structure, function, purpose, etc. How to work with the board.
  9. Professional boundaries: Dual relationships, gifts from patients, hugging, risk factors and vulnerability
    (professional and patient) for intimacy with patients, prescribing to self, family or friends, etc.
  10. Use and risks of social media, texting, cell phones, websites, etc.
  11. History of Medical (and other regulatory) Boards, purpose, function, structure, national organizations (e.g.,,
    newsletters, procedures, etc.
  12. History of Physician (and other Professionals) Health Programs, purpose, function, structure, national organizations (e.g., newsletters, procedures, etc.
  13. Going to 12-step meetings or other support groups and seeing patients…What do you do, say, think, or feel?
  14. The optimal work/life balance…Write out your average schedule for your weekday and/or weekend then write your optimal
    schedule. How are they different? What are the barriers to working the optimal schedule? How can you overcome the
    obstacles? How important is it?
  15. How to apply for a new job. When to mention your history of psychiatric issues? How much do you tell? How to mitigate
    the damage?
  16. The importance of being vulnerable and honest to be in recovery and what are the barriers, risks, etc.

Matthew Goldenberg D.O.

Group Facilitator – Matthew Goldenberg D.O.

  • The format of each group promotes learning, interaction and peer-driven discussion within the group.
  • Most groups have a set outline, but the direction of discussion is group member driven. Patients are encouraged to ask questions, give feedback to peers and provide their experience and options on the topic of discussion.
  • Each group has a handout that the participants can take home to continue their learning.

Groups run 60-90 minutes and are on the following topics:

  1. Addiction Medicine: A General Overview of the Disease of Addiction.
  2. General Overview of the Recovery Process.
  3. Post-Acute Withdrawal and its impact on Recovery Recovery.
  4. Relapse Prevention Strategies to Overcome Post-Acute Withdrawal.
  5. The Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Wellness: How improving mental wellness can improve your recovery.
  6. Coping Skills: Moving from negative coping strategies to positive strategies to improve recovery.
  7. Cognitive Distortions: How your thoughts impact your behaviors and your risk of relapse.
  8. Sleep Part 1: Improving Sleep in Recovery with non-medication and medication treatment options.
  9. Sleep Part 2 & 3: Use of Relaxation and Changing habits to improve sleep quality.
  10. The Importance of Family Support During and After Residential Treatment.
  11. Putting it All Together/Development of a Weekly Recovery Plan: Utilizing the Patient Relapse Risk Scale.
  12. Decreasing Professional Burnout and Increasing Career Resiliency

Mary Ann Rege, MA, LMFT, TMF

Group Facilitator – Mary Ann Rege, LMFT, TMF

As a trained Mindfulness Facilitator from the Semel Institute for Neurobiology and Human Behavior at UCLA, Mary Ann brings passionate drive to help those in recovery build mindful awareness skills.

Mary Ann utilizes a combination of Mindfulness-Based, Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) to assist patients with awareness of thought, emotion and body sensation. This nourishes their ability to respond skillfully to internal and external triggers. Taking a mindful approach to
recovery can decrease magnification of negative emotional states and can contribute to overcoming stigma, shame, and blame which are common struggles for those battling addiction.

Relapse Prevention

The primary purpose of this group is to assist patients with the acquisition of skills needed to reduce the likelihood and severity
of relapse on substance following cessation. This is accomplished through utilization of traditional relapse prevention (RP) and
Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) which is the work of G. Alan Marlatt, PhD, Sarah Bowen, PhD, and Neha
Chawla, PhD. Endogenous factors of relapse, such as cravings and urges, are examined as symptoms of an underlying disease
state as well as contextual factors, such as cognitive processes and environmental stimuli, as relapse antecedents. This approach
allows for the breaking of volitional abstinence (a lapse) to be viewed as a setback versus a failure of the behavioral change
process thus reducing the propensity of Abstinence Violation Effect (AVE). Group sessions consist of examining cognitive
factors, such as the inner dialogue of the addictive voice and maladaptive thought, creating positive lifestyle change through
implementation of healthy coping, scaling and navigation of high-risk situations, creating lapse/relapse management plans, and
the like. The therapist applies several interventions including psychoeducation, experiential exercises in dyads or triads, writing
assignments, and mind training via mindful awareness practices (meditations) which help to mitigate auto- responsivity.

Mindfulness Practice

This group serves as mind training time for the building of both formal (meditation) and informal (daily living) mindfulness
skills. Mindfulness, which can be conceptualized as the art of conscious living, requires practice for its benefits to be reaped. It
is integral in recovery to assist patients with the ability to remain in the present moment versus being caught up in the past which
fuels depression or living in the future which fuels anxiety. Research shows that meditation impacts several areas
in the brain including the hippocampus which governs learning and memory, the amygdala which is responsible for fear,
anxiety, and stress, and the default mode network (DMN) responsible for self-referential thinking and mind wandering. In
a session, patients have the weekly opportunity to engage in a variety of facilitated practices led by the therapist who is a
Trained Mindfulness Facilitator from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. An inquiry, after
facilitated practices, is a hardy component of a group which aids in the identification of direct experience to solidify learning.
This practice group helps patients build a good foundation for mindfulness skills which they can continue to nourish long after
treatment. Psychoeducation is included as are resources for additional practice.

John Pustaver, MDiv, MA

Group Facilitator – John Pustaver MDiv, MA

John Pustaver, MDiv, MA, has been involved in professional evaluations and treatment for fifteen years. John’s honesty, sense of humor and personal experiences have helped many feel much more at ease during their treatment stay and more trusting of the incredible process they have begun.

Spirituality Group

Perhaps no other awareness in the lives of recovering persons is, or becomes, more important than the individual’s ongoing
sense of being connected to something greater than themselves – regardless of whether they are currently experiencing a
pleasant “stretch of road” or a difficult one. The development of this awareness is, by its very nature, personal and completely
voluntary. It does not require anyone to change their current beliefs or their religious or philosophical convictions.

During a participant’s stay with us, they will be asked to explore any beliefs, values or principles that have either helped or
hindered them in the past. They will also be exposed to different perspectives, including the spiritual principles outlined in
Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step based fellowships that have helped so many recovering persons experience peace
of mind and renewed purpose. To the great relief of most, these principles encourage honesty, humility (rightly understood),
service, forgiveness and courage.

The method I find most useful in discovering and developing a meaningful sense of spirituality is simply, honesty. As we
become increasingly honest about ourselves, we naturally become more honest with, and connected to, others. We then, quite
naturally, become increasingly interested and engaged in our life and the lives of others.

Honesty, openness and willingness have been identified as essential to ending our sense of isolation and confusion about our
purpose. The Spirituality groups at the Center for Professional Recovery’s, Professionals Treatment Program, are designed to
encourage each participant to hear from others, and discover a personally meaningful approach to spirituality and a way of life
that places “principles before personalities.”

SallyAnn Cross, MSW, LCSW

Group Facilitator – SallyAnn Cross, LCSW, Executive and Clinical Director

SallyAnn Cross, LCSW, Executive and Clinical Director has over 20 years of experience in addiction medicine and behavioral health services. SallyAnn has formal training in Relapse prevention, Schema Focused therapy, 12-Step, Harm Reduction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Attachment theory, Rational Revcovery, and Family systems.

Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT)

The primary focus of this group lecture is to educate patients on Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT), this
interactive group process explores the biomedical aspects of addiction more specifically, the paired pathways, neo-cortex, and
sub-cortex of the brain.

Schema Therapy

Based on Jeffrey Young’s work Schema focused therapy, this educational group is conducted over several weeks. The schema
questionnaires are administered in a group setting which provides the patient the ability to identify and explore maladaptive
behaviors that are rigid, resistant to change, and perpetuates addictive behaviors and creates barriers to living a fulfilled life.
Patients are educated on the defining core schema characteristics, coping styles and life traps. The goal of the group is to assist
the patient in identifying events that trigger the behaviors, integrate all the information and work toward adapting healthy coping

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